Ecclestone: '12 Austin F1 Race Off If Contract Not Signed By End Of Next Week
The '12 U.S. Grand Prix “will be canceled unless the organizers in Texas sign a contract” with F1 Management Chair Bernie Ecclestone “by the end of next week and prove they have the money to put on the race,” according to Jim Vertuno of the AP. Ecclestone “wants the dispute with Circuit of the Americas officials in Austin settled before the season-ending Brazilian Grand Prix on Nov. 27.” Ecclestone said, “It’s all very simple -- they don’t have the money. We don’t have a contract. If they want to come back to us, if it’s not signed before the end of next week, I suppose it won’t be on the calendar next year.” Circuit of the Americas “indicated it was looking at staging the race in 2013.” Track President Steve Sexton said, “We have been excited for and working towards a 2012 USGP race and now understand that Mr. Ecclestone is interested in moving the Austin race to 2013.” He added, “We know the U.S. market is important to the teams and their sponsors and 2013 certainly allows time for the Circuit of the Americas to be ready” (AP, 11/17). Ecclestone said, “I’ve been trying to do a deal now with these people for 18 months or more. … If they had the money, I’m sure there would be no problem” (LONDON TIMES, 11/18). Texas Comptroller Susan Combs, “who has been a leading proponent for Formula One," said that she "had ‘no idea’ if there would be a race next year." Combs said, “I don’t know because it’s up to the investors.” In Austin, John Maher notes Full Throttle Managing Partner Tavo Hellmund “acknowledged that differences between he and investors Bobby Epstein and San Antonio billionaire Red McCombs began to surface in late spring.” Hellmund said that he is “still negotiating his exit from Circuit of the Americas and hasn’t been paid for a month or two but he is willing to do whatever it takes to make the project successful” (AUSTIN AMERICAN-STATESMAN, 11/18). He said, "We don't have a contract with F1. And the reason we don't have a contract with F1 is that as a project we have failed many times over to fulfill our financial obligations to F1. It's literally that simple" (SPEEDTV.com, 11/17).
TO RACE OR NOT TO RACE: An AUSTIN AMERICAN-STATESMAN editorial states, “Texas cannot afford to invest tens of millions of dollars in something that might or might not happen. We need a guarantee that Austin will get its race. That’s a guarantee that appears to be elusive, given recent events. … In the meantime, Combs should not show Ecclestone or Circuit investors the money until they show us the race” (AUSTIN AMERICAN-STATESMAN, 11/18).